Mobile apps – has any other trend dominated news headlines more than over a decade now? Thanks to unmatched Smartphone proliferation, mobile usage has grown radically than ever before. Today, it seems every company has its own mobile application. And why not! It is a powerful and cost-effective tool to attract, engage, and retain your customers.
A great thing about mobile applications is that they have filled our lives with ease and convenience. The worst thing is that the more these mobile applications become popular, the more they are prone to hacks. As applications become increasingly ingrained in personal and professional lives – using mobile devices to upload sensitive business information or perform financial transactions – our valuable information are at a higher risk of being misused and stolen.
Most apps expose sensitive user data such as identity, privacy, files, contacts, phone, location, or malware. They tend to store critical data like credit card numbers, banking and payment PIN numbers, online service passwords, etc. Unsafe access and sensitive data storage makes user information even more vulnerable to hacking and unscrupulous activities. No wonder, the onus, then, lies on you – to build high-end mobile apps that keep user data safe and secure, and inaccessible by hackers. And for this, it is vital to implement effective security measures across every stage of mobile app development.
Here are some valuable tips to build next generation secured mobile apps:
1. Do Not Rely on Built-In Platform Security Completely
If you think you can afford to ignore the significance of mobile app security because you have native application development platforms to rely upon, you are wrong. You may have the knowledge that iOS is a closed platform, and hence, highly secured. But you may not be aware that even iOS is not 100% immune to cyber attacks and threats. In fact, several instances confirmed Apple system’s inability to protect from all malicious activities, and there too exists vulnerabilities in iOS.
Android gives more flexibility to developers. If you are working on C++, it becomes complex for hackers to phish existing codes. On the other hand, Java is not much difficult to jailbreak and malicious codes can be easily inserted by hackers. So, be it iOS, Android or any other platform, all have their limitations. This means you should not fully depend on their built-in security systems.
2. Integrate Two-Factor Authentication
Passwords no longer provide 100% protection from malicious activities. They can be easily forgotten or hacked. In fact, sometimes passwords are so simple that anyone could simply guess with just a few tries. And for mobile applications that access or store confidential data, getting a password hacked can mean significant loss. Therefore, users demand a highly robust security system in apps.
Two-factor authentication can prove beneficial where passwords aren’t just the right solution. In this system, when a user tries to login, the app sends a randomly generated code via registered email id or text message to registered mobile number. Only when the user enters the code, in addition to password, he or she will be allowed to access the app.
3. Follow the Principle of ‘Least Privilege’
When you build an app, make sure that it asks for user permissions that are essentially required for the core functioning of the application. It should not have your users wonder “why does this photo editor-based mobile application needs access to my text messages?” By having your app require permissions that are necessary, you ensure highest standards of user data safety and security. At the same time, you reduce the chances of being put down by informed users who tend to avoid applications that request unnecessary permissions.
4. Minimize Data Caching Vulnerabilities
Mobile devices tend to store temporary data to facilitate faster caching. This helps increase speed as compared to desktops and laptops. Data caching or the process of storing temporary information makes mobile devices more prone to security threats. Hackers can retrieve cached information easily, which often divulges user activities, app or website access via the mobile device. Adding password protection to use a mobile app can help, but programming the app to automatically erase the cache whenever the device restarts is a good way to ensure security.
5. Do Not Save Passwords or Keys in Application Binary
Often, developers tend to use hardcoded keys and passwords as a shortcut to make the application easier to implement, debug and support. Unfortunately, this increases the chance of hacking and security threats. These secret keys and passwords are stored in application binaries. Hackers can easily reverse engineer application binaries to crack the hardcoded keys and passwords. This makes the app security system or password protection system highly ineffective.
6. Prevent Unsafe Sensitive Data Transmission
Mobile phones are particularly vulnerable to security threats because they often use Wi-Fi, which is considered insecure. Additionally, over 1/3rd of IT professionals do not encrypt sensitive data that they send over mobile devices. As an app developer, it is your responsibility to ensure that sensitive data on your app is protected in transit. Your app should use a highly robust and end-to-end secure channel like TLS or SSL encryption system when users send sensitive data. At the same time, it should not try to override the built-in platform Trust Manager. This may cause hackers to execute man-in-the-middle attacks using fake SSL certificates.
This is just an overview of few security issues and how to cope with them. The scope of mobile app security is broad, and implementing the above strategies in addition to secure communication to servers, planning for physical security breaches and patching apps can help you secure your mobile application.
Related Blog : A Guide to Top Security Risks in Android App Development